A few moments into my Zoom call with Jennifer Hudson, I felt like she was the missing member of my girlfriends group chat. Hudson was radiant in a white gown, with her box braids tied up in a bun, while I sat clad in matching sweats cornered in my New York City apartment. We gathered virtually to discuss her latest project: an endorsement of Olay's best-selling Regenerist moisturizer with SPF. The subject was familiar. Too often, Black women are left disappointed — even feeling betrayed — by a sunscreen that looks chalky or doesn't blend well on our complexions.
The aesthetic failures of countless sunscreens on the market steer many people with deep skin tones away from SPF altogether, leading to serious health risks. Studies indicate that Black women are significantly less likely to use sunscreen on the face and other exposed skin regularly compared to other racial groups, and research also shows that late-stage melanoma is more prevalent in Black patients. That's why experts stress prevention measures, like regular skin checks, and committing to diligent sunscreen uses as the best precautions for early detection.
Emphasizing the importance of representation in sunscreen, a famously unsexy category, might seem silly, but its impact can't be overstated. "I learned how critical sun protection is for our overall health," Hudson says. "It's one part of life we can't escape." Having Black women like Hudson vouch for a sunscreen that isn't only flattering on her complexion, but accessible to millions of people, could literally mean the difference between life and death.
The Olay formula in discussion, which retails for $38.99 at drugstores nationwide, features all the fast-absorbing hydrating properties and nourishing ingredients of the OG whipped lotion, with SPF 25 for added protection. "I love it because it has everything that's good for your skin built in," Hudson says. "It's lightweight and works well under makeup which is a bonus."
Hudson, an award-winning performer, is no stranger to being pampered in the finest skin care and painted in the best makeup, but she says that having access to easy, effective products has made life at home much easier. "When I'm at home on mommy duty, I need to make sure I have solutions that provide the nutrients I need and simplify my routine," she says. "When you're super busy, you don't have time to be selective and pick through multiple steps."
For Hudson, this past year has required learning how to do nothing at all, a feeling she admits is occasionally met with discomfort as a person who was once always on the move. "I get frustrated sometimes, like what am I supposed to do with this small window of time when I have nothing to do?" she says. "But I think the pandemic has given many of us a sense of stillness where we have to allow ourselves just to be."
Hudson says the biggest life lesson she's learned thus far is the power of being honest to herself and those around her. "There are some days when I feel like I don't want to get up, and others where I'm ready to take on the world," she says. "I've learned that we can't control everything, but we can permit ourselves to feel. There's beauty in embracing that."
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